Stocking Stuffers for Writers: EMOTION

*This is a repost from last year. Happy holidays!*

Stocking Stuffers is a series for the busy writer/blogger this holiday season. 

We know time is in short supply, so each day leading to Christmas, we'll offer 5 simple, smart tips on an important topic to writers, helping with craft enhancement, revision and social networking!

Today's Stocking Stuffer: Honing your mad EMOTION skillz:

1--Know what you want the reader to feel. Everything you put your character through--good, bad,'s all to evoke a reaction from the reader. Be mindful of exactly what you want your audience to experience as you write. In order for the book to succeed, the reader must invest in the character's plight and root for them as they struggle.

2--Use everything in your writing arsenal.
 Emotions are best shown through physical action, but the choices you make with story elements and structure can also enhance the experience for the reader. Setting choices (day, night, the weather, a setting with emotional tie to a character) can affect mood. Challenging a character's strengths or revealing a weaknesses can bring out raw feeling. Description, wording, pacing, conflict, sentence structure...all of these can and should be used with intent to help bring about a specific reaction/feeling.

3--Be genuine, not melodramatic.
 With emotion more so than anything else, it's easy to go a touch too far. Always keep an eye out for proportion when displaying emotion, making sure the reaction is relevant to the situation, within the character's response range and most importantly, cliche-free.

4--Minimize thoughts, maximize action. Showing emotion through thoughts can be a slippery slope and can lead to telling/explaining. Showing emotion physically is difficult for a reason--it means having an intimate knowledge of the way your character expresses themselves. Strive for a balance of showing that leans more on action, with emotional thoughts acting as an enhancement. What your character does to express themselves will have more of an impact than what they think about the situation.

5--Emotions should lead to decisions.
 Always keep the story moving forward. A character agonizing over a choice will crank up the tension & heighten stakes, but too much will slow the pace. Remember too, often when emotion is involved, we make mistakes. Mistakes = great conflict!


JeffO said...

Yet another great post, thank you. #3 is a very fine line to walk for me; I feel like I've stepped over it a few times, but so far, no one's told me that...

Pk Hrezo said...

Awesome stuff to remember! I particularly like #4. It's why good fiction is hard to write. :)
Merry Christmas, ladies!! Thanks for all your awesome info thruout the year.

Traci Kenworth said...

More great advice!!

Laura Pauling said...

Love these! And even though I'm not commenting this week - I'm reading them all! Awesome. Have a great Christmas you two!

April Plummer said...

I love these stocking stuffers! Emotions should lead to actions....very good. I also like #2 - use everything in your arsenal. I forget about that sometimes, all there is to use out there to help describe emotions without necessarily having to TELL what's going on inside a character's head or heart.

Roland D. Yeomans said...

No wonder you have so many followers. Me? I keep losing them. Guess I better look my posts over, right?

Thanks for the great tips, and MERRY CHRISTMAS!

Sophia Chang said...

This is gold right here:

"often when emotion is involved, we make mistakes. Mistakes = great conflict!"


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